Sitting behind a desk as he welcomed 18 high school students the Quinnipiac’s summer “Media Camp,” Dave Stevens had a surprise. Mid-speech, he propelled himself up onto the desk revealing an obvious disability. Stevens was born with no legs.
It was an attention-getter with a point. His message was that like him, a seven-time Emmy award-winning TV producer, they too can overcome challenges.
The program is being funded through a state grant, secured by Quinnipiac, to provide summer enrichment to low income, disproportionately impacted youth across the state. Camp scholarships were chosen through a partnership with New Haven Promise.
What’s unique about this experience is that it does not involve traditional summer camp activities. There is no swimming, boating or other playful activities. Instead, these students are learning how to make television. From busy control rooms, to editing bays, and fully appointed sets, they are getting the real experience.
“I’ve been filming. I’ve been editing. I’ve been directing,” said Alex Negron, who attends New Haven’s Cooperative Arts and Humanities.
During a two-week, immersive overnight experience, these students are learning everything from producing to being on-camera, which can be exhilarating.
“The first time I sat on the set I think that’s like the fastest my heart has ever beaten,” Negron said.
Shaking of the nerves, and using state of the art technology, these students are making TV. Using green screen technology, 15-year-old Suki Sze is recreating the Family Feud game show.
“We have chairs, and we have buzzers. They make a really annoying sound,” Sze said with a laugh as she proudly showed off the set. It has a green screen behind it and through digital enhancement the authentic Family Feud look can be superimposed as if these students were involved in the actual show.
The grant and the program, which is one of four pre-college learning sessions at the school this summer, aims to create educational opportunity lost during the pandemic.
“It’s really trying to jump-start some of these students who have otherwise been confined to home or an apartment for over a year,” said Quinnipiac Director of Summer Programs, David Charron.
Meanwhile, Stevens, who runs Quinnipiac's Ability Media program, is proud of the work these students have accomplished in a very short time.
“Hopefully they can go back to their schools and have a different perspective,” Stevens said.